We’re on a mission to help you find tasty uses for all those bottles which might otherwise languish untouched after the anything-goes imbibing of the festive season. Remember: drinks are for life, not just for Christmas.
I’ve recently been reorganising my wardrobe. Not something I usually relish but let’s face it, there’s bugger all else to do. Aside from demonstrating quite how poor my fashion sense is, the activity has reminded me of what a good friend once told me about his ‘matrix’ for getting dressed in the morning.
As someone keenly aware of his own flaws, this chap knew that he had little capacity to roll out of bed, throw something on and look respectable at work. As such he had created the matrix: a folder full of pictures of all the clothes he owned, and tables explaining what went with what. Poppycock, I thought at the time. Men have it easy. You simply put on your pants, tuck a shirt into the pants, put on a dark coloured suit, affix a tie to your neck and tuck that into your pants too, and job done.
And yet, the more I think about it the more it makes sense. We’re a society which, in happy times, is afflicted by abundance. We have so much choice, so much stuff, that we lose track of how to use it.
After the Christmas festivities, that’s particularly true of our drinks cabinets. We all have our cocktail pants – the spirit(s) we love and we use over and over again to anchor drinks together – but Christmas normally brings an influx of seasonal jumpers: the unusual, the seasonal and often the disconcertingly sparkly. These might get opened and used once, but then languish at the back of the cupboard for months – in many cases going off in the process.
We’re on a mission to save your drinks from a dusty doom – and you from January boredom – by providing ideas, courtesy of our head buyer and unofficial head chef, Dawn Davies MW, on how to recycle your festive bottles into exciting new drinks. There’s a lot to get through and we’re going to start with vermouth: step on up and enter the matrix…
Up-Cycling Your Vermouth
We’re big fans of vermouth at The Whisky Exchange, so much so that we’ve written about it quite extensively. If you’ve acquired a bottle and would like to know more about the wonderful, stylish world of vermouth and fortified wines, then check out our Focus on Vermouth feature.
If you’ve opened a bottle over Christmas then it’ll keep until about the end of January, provided it’s been kept in the fridge. Fortunately vermouth is incredibly versatile, and this flavourful drink won’t be clogging up valuable fridge-door space for long – until, of course, you realise it’s a household staple and should be in your house at all times.
Dry white vermouth is a surprisingly wonderful replacement for white wine in risotto recipes. Its combination of sweetness and acidity is the perfect foil to the stodge potential of the dish, and as your vermouth probably originated from Italy you’re one step closer to unleashing your inner Giorgio Locatelli.
This might come as a horrible shock to some of you, but the Martini comes in wet as well as dry variants. After all, vermouth and gin are natural bedfellows thanks to their shared botanical characteristics, and combining them gives us all sorts of classic and wonderful drinks. Many of them involve red vermouth – and read on for more ideas along those lines – but the combination in this most classic of drinks won’t disappoint. Head over to our cocktails page for a great Wet Martini recipe.
If you want a quick and easy drink which is both refreshing and complex, just pour 50ml of your vermouth over ice, top with soda and add a lemon garnish. Vermouth and soda is a great drink that can be made with most styles of vermouth, and one that’s definitely worth playing around with until you find your favourite.
Red vermouth is quite often sweeter than its white counterpart and as such has all sorts of excellent pudding possibilities. Poached pears, a winter staple and – presumably – at least one of your five at day, are particularly delicious when you substitute the red wine in the recipe for red vermouth. We hear that you can even go one step further and add Campari and gin for Negroni poached pears, but that might seem like the unnecessary murder of a good drink.
The Gin & It is a wonderfully simple drink: the It being vermouth – traditionally ITalian vermouth – and the recipe essentially being to throw the ingredients together (2:1 gin to vermouth) in a glass. If you’d like to learn more about the drink I’d highly recommending reading this excellent newsletter by spirits writer Richard Godwin, and then subscribing so you get more of his wonderful words in your inbox.
If you’d like to live the dream and consume vermouth for breakfast, then why not add your leftover fortified wine into a batch of jam? (Toast responsibly, people.) Red vermouth will add sweet spice notes that complement red berry notes beautifully, and it also goes very well with fig if you’re making a compote to go with all that leftover Christmas cheese.